BPDCC Accessibility Research Group

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

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Teleconference Details

Date: 2008-05-23

Time: 2:00-4:00 PM EDT; 1:00-3:00 PM CDT



BPDCC Accessibility Teleconference Minutes 05/23/2008
Scribes: Nolan Crabb and Marc Thompson

Action Items

  1. Anne-Marie Armstrong agreed to send a copy of the online syllabi used on her campus to the list.
  2. (All BPDCC members) Revision and consolidation of research findings on Netfiles

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  1. Anne-Marie Armstrong
  2. Christy Blew
  3. Nolan Crabb (scribe)
  4. Christie Gilson
  5. Vance Martin
  6. Ken Petri
  7. Hadi Rangin
  8. Marc Thompson (facilitator)


Faculty Summer Institute

Marc began the meeting by announcing that he, Christy Gilson, Hadi, Kostas, and Vance had all participated in a Faculty Summer Institute workshop on best practices and accessibility. Christie commended Marc for his efforts with the workshop; he said all members had worked together and had done well.

Research Review Process

Marc indicated he had sent attachments of the files relevant to the review and consolidation process out to the group earlier. He felt the attachments would be easier to deal with than navigating the directory structures in the web site. When asked how much time people had left to comment on their various sections, he said that the group originally agreed to approximately a six-week timeline and that two weeks had passed, leaving about a month for people to make final revisions. He instructed people who felt their work was completed to simply note that in the attachment and in a message sent back to him. He also stressed the extreme importance of documenting and properly attributing sources.

Call for Remaining Flash Research

Marc next asked whether anyone had done any additional flash research they wished to present. (No one had.)

Accessible Syllabus Template Discussion

Discussion next turned to the syllabus template that Vance and others have been working on. Hadi indicated he had sent e-mail that included his specific comments. Vance said he envisioned the document as a kind of framework that instructors could use to fill in their blanks. He said he looked at articles that dealt with what should be included in a syllabus and sought to build this document as a template based on those articles. He pointed out that it was difficult to create the template as an actual syllabus because each instructor would have his own style and way of creating such a document. He talked about a framework in which instructors could move data about as they needed to.

The group discussed the idea that a syllabus serves three purposes—it serves as a contract between the instructor and student, as a learning tool for the student, and as a permanent record of the course’s activities and assignments.

The group discussed the possibilities, based on those three purposes, of creating separate templates that dealt with each purpose. Vance said the template could be accompanied by a separate article that explained the various purposes of the template. The template’s final version could be available in Word and in HTML.

Marc suggested some of the sections that had been bolded could be altered to reflect headings, conceivably thereby making it more useful to screen reader users. The group next discussed the idea of providing more of a sample syllabus than the blank template, but Vance suggested the blank framework might ultimately be more useful to most instructors. Marc wondered why both a generic template and a specific sample couldn’t be included together.

The group turned its attention to the concept of a syllabus for an online class as opposed to a conventional on-campus class. Anne-Marie said there are important differences in terms of the syllabi, and she offered to distribute to the group an example of an online syllabus used on her campus. Vance wondered what some of those differences are. She pointed out that expectations of students taking online classes could significantly differ from those of students taking classes on campus. One of those differences could include a very specific listing of how students could contact the instructor during nontraditional hours and what the turn-around time would be for e-mail communication.

The group again addressed the concept of formatting the template. Hadi and Marc discussed the importance of headings in the template, and Marc pointed out that tables are likely to be more accessible in some ways than merely information set apart by using multiple tabs. There was discussion about the functionality of Microsoft Word in terms of whether it could automatically alter the shape of bullets used in a bulleted list depending on how far indented the material was. The group ultimately agreed that following Word styles would make the most sense. Nolan pointed out that closely following Word styles could have an advantage if the syllabus were to be turned into a DAISY file at some point using the new Microsoft Word plug-in for DAISY conversion. Ken said PDF conversions are less dependent on following Word styles, since PDF tags are somewhat limited in terms of styles available to them.

Hadi pointed out that, in his opinion, it makes more sense to have the letter grades on the left side of the line followed by the percentages on the right as opposed to the way it currently is in the existing template.

CommonLook PDF Application

Due to time constraints, the group was unable to take up the Common Look program, but it would be included in the agenda for the next meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m. EDT; 2:00 p.m. CDT

Tentative Agenda Topics for Next Meeting

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